My sister, who has been living in Hungary, was able to move up her flight moving back to the states a week and arrived to PDX on Friday night. Since one of my parents had to come up from Eugene to pick her up from the airport, I decided to head down with them and catch a Bolt Bus home on Sunday. Despite getting back to Eugene right around midnight, the whole family went over to sit with Grandpa for a little bit.
Each day we went over for a little bit and basically just watched him sleep.
I went with an old friend on Sunday morning (who knew him well), and then once more by myself right before I had to head down to the bus stop to go home. As I left, I kissed his forehead and told him I loved him one last time.
Overnight, he passed away peacefully in his sleep. His journey on this crazy planet complete.
I’m going to miss you grandpa.
I’m happy he got to meet both of my sisters children before he passed away. Someday I hope to tell my own children stories about him.
This is one of the last pictures of him, from the weekend James was born:
For most of my college years, I lived in the mother in-law suite at my Grandparents house. During that time, I acquired a dog from a co-worker. Bruno was approx 2 yrs old when I got him (but his age wasn’t really known). My grandparents had huge back yard with plenty of room for him to run (and run and run and run). Inside the house…he was pretty good at following basic instructions, but when he was outside it was like all hearing disappeared. He was a mix of Walker Hound and Black Lab (at least).
When I moved up to Portland in 2004, Bruno stayed at my grandparents house. He was happier there than he would have been able to be anywhere I would have been able to live at the time. He truly became my grandparents dog though the time one of them fell (either in the bathroom or outside…my memory is failing me at the moment) and the other was either outside or in the house. Bruno went and found the other of them to get their attention and lead them to the other.
Bruno lived a long time. I got him sometime in 2000 and he finally had to be put down just last year (or maybe late 2014…dates seem to be failing me at the moment). As much of a pain in the ass Bruno could be at times. I’m glad he was able to be a companion to my grandparents for a while. I know he loved being there with him.
My grandpa was released from the hospital yesterday and while he recovered from the surgery and the initial reasons he was hospitalized, he’s having problems eating. Per his wishes (and after consulting with the doctors), there isn’t really much that can be done for that as he’s not a good candidate for further surgery that would help him take in food easier. Basically he’s now in care to manage pain and be comfortable. But most likely it’s just a matter of time. He’s 92, he’s lived a long good life. Was at home until going into the hospital on the 3rd. He’s outlived his wife by 9.5 years (so far). Not to shabby, especially for a family where the men don’t typically make it into their 90s.
I’m going to miss him though. He has been a huge part of my life growing up and who I’ve become. I’m not really ready to see him go (selfishly).
As twilight makes a rainbow robe
From the concealed colors of day
In order for time to stay alive
Within the dark weight of night,
May we lose no one we love
From the shelter of our hearts.
When we love another heart
And allow it to love us,
We journey deep below time
Into that eternal weave
Where nothing unravels.
May we have the grace to see
Despite the hurt of rupture,
The searing of anger,
And the empty disappointment,
that whoever we have loved,
Such love can never quench.
Though a door may have closed,
Closed between us,
May we be able to view
Our lost friends with eyes
Wise with calming grace;
Forgive them the damage
We were left to inherit;
Free ourselves from the chains
Of forlorn resentment;
Bring warmth again to
Where the heart has frozen
In order that beyond the walls
Of our cherished hurt
And chosen distance
We may be able to
Celebrate the gifts they brought,
Learn and grow from the pain,
And prosper into difference,
Wishing them the peace
Where spirit can summon
Beauty from wounded space.
– John O’Donohue (from To Bless the Space Between Us)
Like his prior work, its a bit strange, but also amusing. Originally conceived as a “horror film” for Sony, this is what Kaufman came up with. A story about a theater director so afraid of death that he is misses life and the good parts of it. I thought it was a fascinating film, and fit perfectly alongside the rest of Kaufman’s work.
My friend went with me said “near the end, I just wanted it to be over already.” Not because it wasn’t an enjoyable movie, but just because it was getting long. What I just realized though, is perhaps this was a good thing. This is a film about living and dying after all. For some people at the end of life, you wish for it just to be over, the suffering of pain, loneliness, whatever. But for whatever reason they linger on, in pain, alone until finally the warm light embraces them.
Things don’t look good with my grandma. Even if she were to recover…she’s likely never to be able to really return home. The last couple days have been rough on her. She’s having a much harder time breathing. It’s a very labor intensive process for her. She doesn’t want to die, but she’s also very afraid. You can hear it in her voice and see it in her eyes. If she can’t stabilize…they can’t do a surgery for a feeding tube in her stomach. And she can’t go to a rehab center without the surgery.
It’s been such an emotional roller coaster this past week. The strength of my grandpa and my uncle and dad amazes me. They’ve slept so little since Thursday…taking turns to make sure someone is always with her. I know I haven’t had their strength. Being at the hospital is tough and makes me sad. I go at least once or twice a day…but I’m always exhausted after just a few hours.
I headed down to Eugene Wednesday after work in order to make sure I’d have a chance to see my grandma. She’d had a pretty rough weekend and it was pretty touch and go. Thursday morning, my sisters and I were getting ready to head over to the hospital for a visit when my dad called. They had decided that they would be removing the feeding tube and ventilator currently down her throat. The risk (and what the doctors expected to happen) was that her throat would continue to swell after removing the tube, making it impossible for her to breathe. So around 10:30am Thursday morning, the tubes were removed and an unexpected thing happened. Nothing. She stabilized fairly quickly and remained that way for the rest of the afternoon. At this point, they decided to move her downstairs from the ICU into a regular hospital room. However the doctors still didn’t expect her to make it through the night. A little after 4pm my sisters and I headed home for a little break and nap. I headed back over to the hospital around 6.30pm. Around 8pm, despite the morphine, she woke up enough and began to talk for the first time all day. She told us she wants to go home and asked questions.
Today she has been improving throughout the day. She’s more talkative (and more insistent on going home). She doesn’t however want to go home just to die. She’s fighting with all she has. The doctors were all happily surprised she survived the night. Now they are busy figuring out what med’s they are going to restart to help give her the tools she needs to fight the things afflicting her. If she continues to improve over the next few days…she’ll likely be released from the hospital and at least get to move to a rehab facility where she’ll be able to continue her recovery.
In what I hope is not a harbinger of the coming year, my New Year’s Eve was cast upon with loneliness and death. My closest friends were all out of town and none of the “nightlife” options appealed to me this year. The most difficult part of the day was however the update my father gave me on my grandmother. Friday, she had been moved back to the hospital from the rehab center. On Saturday, she was moved back into ICU. After being bed ridden with a feeding tube down one nostril for two weeks, she had developed pneumonia. The doctors wanted to do a surgery to insert a feeding tube directly into her stomach, however because of the respiratory problems, could not do the surgery yet. Saturday night was a rough night for my grandma, she was having a hard time breathing. However, Sunday morning she was doing better after one big coughing bit. For now they are going to see if they can work on breaking up some of the blockage, so they can go ahead with the surgery to insert a feeding tube into her stomach. However that’ll be a couple of days at the earliest (that they would do the surgery).
I was lucky to be with a friend when I did get this call though. Because my dad talked to me about what would happen if things got worse. They are going to aggressively treat what they can…but they aren’t going to keep her alive just for the sake of keeping her alive. I know she’s lived a long and good life, but its still kinda tough to wrap my head around the fact that she might die.